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"A Significant Victory": Julian Assange Hails U.N. Panel Calling for His Freedom

Democracy Now - Fri 07 45 AM

A United Nations panel has officially concluded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been "arbitrarily detained" and should be allowed to walk free. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for more than three years. He wants to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crimes allegations, which he has repeatedly denied and for which he has never been charged. He fears Sweden would extradite him to the United States, where he could face trial for WikiLeaks’ revelations. We air reaction to the U.N. decision from Assange and his attorney, Melinda Taylor, and speak with Mads Andenæs, U.N. special rapporteur on arbitrary detention.

Sanders & Clinton Spar on 2002 Iraq Vote; Clinton Praises Henry Kissinger

Democracy Now - Fri 07 35 AM

During Thursday’s debate in New Hampshire, while Sen. Bernie Sanders conceded former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has more experience in foreign affairs, he questioned her judgment for voting for the Iraq War. "But experience is not the only point—judgment is," Sanders said. "And once again, back in 2002, when we both looked at the same evidence about the wisdom of the war in Iraq, one of us voted the right way, and one of us didn’t." Clinton repeatedly touted her time as secretary of state. "I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better—better than anybody had run it in a long time," she said.

Hillary Clinton Refuses to Say If She Will Release Copies of Her Paid Speeches to Goldman Sachs

Democracy Now - Fri 07 24 AM

During Thursday’s debate, more questions were raised about Goldman Sachs paying Hillary Clinton $675,000 to give three speeches. Two weeks ago, Clinton laughed when The Intercept’s Lee Fang asked Clinton if she would release the transcripts of her paid speeches. On Thursday, she was asked again by Chuck Todd. "I will look into it. I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it," Clinton said.

Clinton Accuses Sanders of "Artful Smear" for Questioning Why Wall Street Gives Her Millions

Democracy Now - Fri 07 12 AM

In their most heated debate of the campaign, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sparred last night in New Hampshire days ahead of Tuesday’s primary. Sanders repeatedly questioned Clinton’s progressive credentials, while Clinton accused her opponent of an "artful smear" in suggesting she could be bought by political donations. We air highlights and speak to Bertha Lewis of The Black Institute and Lee Fang of The Intercept.

Zika Virus: Are Climate & Ecological Factors Driving Spread of Viral Diseases in the Americas?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 44 AM

We look at the spread of the Zika virus, which scientists have linked to rising temperatures from global warming because of the increased incidence of mosquito-borne infections. The illness, while generally not life-threatening, has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus an international public health emergency, saying the virus is "spreading explosively" and that up to 4 million people in the Americas could be infected by the end of this year. Brazil has been hardest hit by Zika with over 4,000 cases of infants with severe birth defects which could be linked to the virus. Meanwhile, officials in Texas have reported the first case of the virus contracted in the United States, saying it was sexually transmitted. We are joined by Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Amy Vittor, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Florida’s Division of Infectious Disease.

Exclusive Report: How Long Did Flint's County Jail Inmates Drink Poisoned Water?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 38 AM

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we hear from some of hundreds of prisoners in the Genesee County Jail in Flint, Michigan, who have had no option but to drink and shower in the contaminated city water. In October, after Flint’s newly elected Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state of emergency over high levels of lead in the city water, the jail briefly switched to distributing bottled water. But five days later, the jail switched back to the city supply after the sheriff said a water quality test showed the water was safe. Finally, last Friday, the jail again switched to using bottled water. We hear the voice of former Genesee County Jail inmate Jody Cramer, who was just released from jail this week after serving two months. While inside Genesee County Jail, Cramer worked as a trustee in the kitchen and helped distribute food and, more recently, bottles of water to other inmates. He says that once water distribution began this past Friday, he was instructed to distribute two 12-ounce bottles of water twice a day to inmates—or a total of 48 ounces per day. That’s less than half the amount of water the Institute for Medicine recommends adult men drink daily. Cramer also says there are a number of pregnant women in the jail and that they, too, were drinking the tap water up until last Friday’s switch. Lead poisoning puts pregnant women at risk for miscarriages and can cause permanent damage to the brain, kidneys and nervous system of newborn children.

"There's a Jim Jones in Michigan": Lawmaker Likens Flint Crisis to Cult Leader Who Poisoned Members

Democracy Now - Thu 07 28 AM

Congress held its first hearing Wednesday on lead poisoning in Flint’s water supply. The crisis began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder switched the source of Flint’s drinking water to the corrosive Flint River. Flint’s former emergency manager, Darnell Earley, refused to testify at the hearing, despite a subpoena. On Tuesday, he announced he was resigning from his current position as emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools. Republican Congressmember Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which convened the hearing, said of Earley that he would direct U.S. marshals to "hunt him down" and serve him with a subpoena. We play highlights from the hearing, including Flint resident LeeAnne Walters, who was one of the first to sound the alarm about lead contamination in the water. "Despite the evidence and the fact that my son had lead poisoning, the city and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality still continued to tell everyone that the water was safe," Walters said. Congressmember Sheila Jackson Lee raised the specter of a 1970s cult leader who led the mass murder-suicide of his more than 900 followers, nearly 300 of them children. "There is a Jim Jones in Michigan, who gave a poisoned concoction to children and their families," Lee said.

Lori Wallach: Signing of TPP Marks Only Beginning of the Fight, Trade Deal Could Still Be Stopped

Democracy Now - Thu 07 15 AM

One of the world’s biggest multinational trade deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has been signed by 12 member nations in New Zealand and will now undergo a two-year ratification period in which at least six countries must approve the final text for the deal to be implemented. The Trans-Pacific Partnership encompasses 12 Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, and 40 percent of the world’s economy. Opponents say it will benefit corporations at the expense of health, the environment, free speech and labor rights. Activists have kicked off a worldwide series of protests around the signing of the trade pact, including a nonviolent blockade of the convention center in Auckland where the signing took place. A Maori tribe refused a request to perform at a welcome ceremony for trade ministers, saying the TPP threatens sovereignty. Meanwhile, the White House has warned Congress that a delay in ratifying the deal will cost the U.S. economy. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the Obama administration is doing everything in its power to move it forward. But our guest, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen, argues, "We have to make sure every member of Congress says there’s no way, we’re not meant to do this." The deal has also become a campaign issue, and Wallach notes, "There’s no presidential candidate in any state polling over 5 percent who supports the TPP."

Will Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Go Free After U.N. Finds He Is Being Arbitrarily Detained?

Democracy Now - Thu 07 09 AM

The BBC reports the United Nations panel investigating the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has ruled he has been "arbitrarily detained.” The U.N. says it will not confirm the report until Friday at 11 a.m. Geneva time. Assange first complained to the U.N. in 2014 that he was being arbitrarily detained since he could not leave the Ecuadorean Embassy in London without being arrested. Assange took refuge in the embassy in 2012. Assange wants to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex assault claims, which he has repeatedly denied. He says he fears Sweden will extradite him to the United States, where he could face trial for publishing classified information. Police say a warrant for Assange’s arrest remains in place. Assange has called for his arrest warrant to be dropped if the panel ruled in his favor. The BBC reports the panel’s ruling will not have any formal influence over the British and Swedish authorities. We go to London to speak with one of Assange’s lawyers, Jennifer Robinson, who says, "We hope and expect that the U.K. and Sweden will act accordingly."

Michael Eric Dyson on "The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America"

Democracy Now - Wed 07 41 AM

As the 2016 presidential race heats up and the nation marks Black History Month, we turn to look back on President Obama’s legacy as the nation’s first African-American president. Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson has just published a new book titled The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. From the protests in Ferguson to the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, to the controversy over the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Michael Eric Dyson explores how President Obama has changed how he talks about race over the past seven years.

Jewish Peace Groups Reveal Role in Spoof New York Times That Criticized Paper's Stance on Israel

Democracy Now - Wed 07 28 AM

A Palestinian village has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Israel is throwing open its doors to refugees. Those were some of the headlines that appeared in a fake version of The New York Times distributed across New York City on Tuesday. The paper carried the slogan "All the news we didn’t print." The prank copy of the revered "Gray Lady" also announced Democratic presidential candidate "Hilarity Clifton" planned to quit the presidential race to head up a women’s nonprofit based in Ramallah. The edition even has fake ads. Volunteers distributed 10,000 copies of the fake paper, but no group took responsibility—until now. Jane Hirschmann of Jews Say No! tells Democracy Now! her group and Jewish Voice for Peace produced the paper. We speak to Hirschmann and Ben Norton, journalist at Salon.

Privatization on Steroids: Emergency Manager Who Switched Flint Water Resigns from Detroit Schools

Democracy Now - Wed 07 10 AM

Congress is holding its first hearing today on lead poisoning in the water supply of Flint, Michigan. The crisis began after an unelected emergency manager appointed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder switched the source of Flint’s drinking water to the corrosive Flint River. Flint’s former emergency manager, Darnell Earley, refused to testify at today’s hearing despite a subpoena from the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. On Tuesday, Earley announced he was resigning from his current position as emergency manager of the Detroit Public Schools. One person that will be testifying is Snyder’s handpicked appointee to run the state Department of Environmental Quality, Keith Creagh. According to the Detroit Free Press, Creagh is expected to fault the federal Environmental Protection Agency for contributing to the Flint crisis, saying it "did not display the sense of urgency that the situation demanded."

Clinton Laughs Off Question on Goldman Sachs, But Can Millions in Special Interest Cash Be Ignored?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 55 AM

The Intercept’s Lee Fang recently questioned Hillary Clinton about her speeches for Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, which paid her $675,000 for just three appearances. After a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, Fang asked Clinton if she would release the transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. Clinton laughed and turned away. Fang joins us to discuss Clinton’s Wall Street ties along with Ellen Chesler, a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and longtime Clinton supporter.

The Road to the White House Begins in Iowa, But Is It Already Sold to Wealthy Donors?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 51 AM

Spending by so-called "dark money" groups—political super PACs and other organizations who can hide their funders—is already far ahead of previous election cycles, with estimates it could reach up to half a billion dollars. Outside spending has surged since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which removed limits on campaign spending by ruling that donor money is a form of free speech. We are joined by The Intercept reporter Lee Fang, who’s been following the money trail, from the politicians at the podiums to the money in the shadows.

After Dead Heat in Iowa, Will Clinton Move Further Left to Stop the Sanders Surge?

Democracy Now - Tue 07 30 AM

With Iowa out of the way, the presidential contest now shifts to New Hampshire, which holds its primary a week from today. Then come contests in Nevada and South Carolina, followed by the delegate-rich "Super Tuesday" primaries on March 1. Although Bernie Sanders was able to tie Clinton in Iowa and leads her in the New Hampshire polls, he’ll face a tougher challenge as the contest moves to the Southern states. And Clinton already has a big advantage away from the voting booths: the support of several hundred "superdelegates," who vote based on their own preferences, not their party’s state results. We discuss the Iowa results and look ahead to what’s next with two guests: Ellen Chesler, a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton and senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, and John Nichols, political writer for The Nation, which has endorsed Bernie Sanders, and author of several books, including the newly updated "The 'S' Word: A Short History of an American Tradition...Socialism."

Iowa Caucuses: Bernie Sanders Rallies to Tie Hillary Clinton; Ted Cruz Upsets Donald Trump

Democracy Now - Tue 07 15 AM

The Iowa caucuses saw an upset victory for Republican Senator Ted Cruz over front-runner Donald Trump and a virtual tie between Hillary Clinton and rival Bernie Sanders. The latest returns show Clinton leading Sanders by less than half a percentage point, a result that would split Iowa’s delegate votes for the Democratic nomination. Some Democratic caucus sites decided their winner with a coin toss. In all six situations, Clinton won. Florida Senator Marco Rubio came in just behind Trump. On the Republican side, Cruz upset Donald Trump with the help of a strong evangelical turnout. We air highlights from the candidates’ Iowa speeches.